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LeMessurier Stands Tall:
A Case Study in Professional Ethics

Michael J. Vardaro, Esq., ZETLIN & DE CHIARA LLP, Spring 2013

For many architects, dealing with the myriad of requirements imposed on the practice of architecture and the complexities they impose can be challenging enough before any thought is given to the subject of professional ethics. In most instances, sound business or legal decisions will also serve to fulfill one’s ethical obligations. However, there are times when ethical obligations dictate choices that diverge from business or legal solutions. It is in these situations that architects will be challenged to identify issues and formulate important yet difficult decisions that may define their professional practice.

Explore the incorporation of ethical considerations into the practice of architecture through the examination of the post-design issues surrounding the Citicorp Center in New York City. This fascinating story serves as an excellent case study by which to analyze the competing demands placed on design professionals, and the emphasis that should be placed on fulfilling ethical obligations. LeMessurier’s actions were remarkable and the events examined in the paper outline the need for proper communication, delegation and supervision during the design and construction process and the importance of balancing professional and legal responsibilities with ethical obligations. The story leaves no doubt that safety comes first, and all decisions made by design professionals must be made with safety in mind.

Michael J. Vardaro, is the Managing Partner of Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, a construction law firm based in New York. Michael, a former construction worker and civil engineering graduate, has focused much of his practice over the last 16 years on representing design professionals in complex commercial disputes, contract negotiations and licensing and corporate matters.

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